Last Stop on Market Street Review by Catherine Baty
de la Peña, Matt, and Christian Robinson. Last Stop on Market Street. London: Puffin, 2017. Print.
2. PLOT SUMMARY
Nana and little CJ ride the bus after church. Along the way, Nana teaches CJ the importance of taking time to see, hear and feel the real life that is going on all around. The kind bus driver does a magic trick, the blind man talks about seeing with his eyes and ears, the man with the guitar plays a song, and CJ is uplifted by the music. After the bus ride, Nana continues to teach CJ about finding beauty in even the hardest places as they walk to their destination, a soup kitchen. Though CJ was, at first, lamenting having to go to the soup kitchen after church when other kids do not have to, in the end he is happy because he gets to see the people there.
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Even the smallest character in this story is vibrant. Mr. Dennis, the bus driver, shows CJ that magic can be found everywhere and Nana expounds on that notion. The blind man teaches CJ that you do not need sight to see. Nana is a wonderfully nurturant parent and helps to guide CJ through the plot as he changes from disliking the thought of the soup kitchen, to understanding of the happiness that can be found by helping people. This book makes for eager reading. As it continued, I wanted to know where Nana and CJ were headed as that crucial detail was left out until very near the end. The urban setting is brought to life by the lovely illustrations, which complement the story. They always broaden understanding and never detract from the main point. The art especially lends to the beauty found in closing one’s eyes and enjoying the music of the moment. The theme of finding beauty wherever you are is stamped on every page. The illustrations are also delightfully diverse and all the representations I saw seem to be interesting and expressive, not relying on stereotypes at all. Though this book, might be most at home in the 4 to 8 years old crowd, I think that it would be a good addition as a warm-up in older classes as well because there is so much to discuss.
4. REVIEW EXCERPTS
Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
Caldecott Honor Book 2016
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book 2016
New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2015
Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2015
#1 New York Times Bestseller
“Like still waters, de la Peña (A Nation’s Hope) and Robinson’s (Gaston) story runs deep. It finds beauty in unexpected places, explores the difference between what’s fleeting and what lasts, acknowledges inequality, and testifies to the love shared by an African-American boy and his grandmother.” – Contributor, Publishers Weekly on October 27th 2014
“Last Stop on Market Street is a lovely, warm picture book, with strong and commendable themes of intergenerational friendship, building community, and finding beauty in unlikely places. And other messages as well: the value of helping the less fortunate, how to grow up to be a good person (as guided by your Nana).” – Martha V. Parravno, The Horn Book website, Calling Caldecott blog on September 21st, 2015
Gather with other Newbery Award winner and honor books, such as:
- Barnes, Derrick D, and Gordon C. James. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. ISBN 9781572842243
- Woodson, Jacqueline, and Hudson Talbott. Show Way. ISBN 9780399237492
Compare and Contrast Activity. Gather with other books created with each of the contributors and discuss the similarities and differences in theme, character, art and style. Use titles such as:
- Robinson, Christian. Another. ISBN 9781534421677
- de la Peña, Matt and Ana Ramírez. Miguel and the Grand Harmony. ISBN 9781484781494
- de la Peña, Matt, and Christian Robinson. Carmela Full of Wishes. ISBN 9780399549045